BENGALURU: Accenture has become among the first in India to move away from gender binaries. Policies will focus on the caregiver rather than gender or marital status.
Accenture India’s life insurance benefit was previously restricted to the employee’s spouse and family members. Now, the nominee can be anybody chosen by the employee. Accenture employees who identify themselves as LGBT+ can nominate their partners too.
“We undertook an extensive review of our people policies with a view to making them gender-neutral and to ensure that our people feel valued, included and for them to benefit equally from our policies. We are breaking some of the gender stereotypes to focus on the role of a caregiver. Gendered language and people policies often also leave non-binary individuals feeling left out and prevents them from availing certain benefits,” said Lakshmi C, managing director and lead – human resources, Accenture India. Accenture has over 2 lakh employees in India. The policy changes came into effect in December.
In parental leave policies, the focus is now on the primary and secondary caregivers, outside the definition of a traditional family construct. Maternal leave, which was previously restricted to those who identify themselves as women, has now been extended to all eligible employees who can bear and give birth to a child. “For instance, transmen who can bear a child are eligible for the 26-week leave,” Lakshmi said. In 2015, Accenture increased its maternity-leave benefits in India to 22 weeks of paid leave, up significantly from the then prevalent statutory requirement of 12 weeks. It currently offers 26 weeks of maternity leave.
Paternal leave, which previously benefited those who identified themselves as men, has been extended to all secondary caregivers, irrespective of gender identity, to benefit those who identify as LGBT+. “That’s a big shift,” Lakshmi said.
Surrogacy and adoption leaves have been extended to employees who are primary caregivers irrespective of their gender identity. Previously, only female employees were eligible for surrogacy leave. Adoption leave was previously open to employees who identified themselves as men and women.
For bereavement leave, previously, an employee could avail this benefit of paid time in the event of the death of close family members defined as one’s spouse, children, parents, grandparents, siblings and parents’ in-laws. The definition of close family members has now been extended to cover partners of employees who identify as LGBT+. In 2016, Accenture was one of the first companies to introduce medical cover for gender reassignment surgery.
“It’s a continued journey to create equality. We continue to leverage our HR people advisors, frontline supervisors and our internal channels to communicate these changes effectively,” she said.
In 2017, Accenture was among the first companies to set a global goal of achieving a gender-balanced workforce — with 50% women and 50% men — by 2025. Last year, it accomplished its commitment to growing the percentage of women managing directors at Accenture to 25%, globally, by the year 2020.